China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
This panel gathers and supports life-writing projects aimed at a broad readership: each presenter focuses on a compelling personage whose life can be read in ways that advance undergraduate and general readers’ understanding of topics and issues central to modern Chinese cultural history. Lang Wang’s study of the late Qing activist and writer Qiu Jin emphasizes Qiu’s forms of feminism and offers a comparative analysis with more well-known male thinkers like Liang Qichao. Da Zheng explores playwright Shih-I Hsiung’s interventions in 1930s cultural exchange through his creation and promotion of a widely successful English-language play based on a Beijing opera. Karen S. Kingsbury investigates various techniques for crafting a critical biography of Eileen Chang for an Anglophone audience (narrative sequencing, framing of claims and suspense, representations of bilinguality, etc.). Finally, Grace C. Huang examines political leader Zhou Enlai and how he justified his decisions during important historical moments in modern China’s history by drawing on Confucian, Communist, and Maoist ideas to highlight the peculiar conditions and tradeoffs he had to make while working under the megalomaniac leader, Mao Zedong. Our discussant, Phan Thu Vân, helps us consider the interests of students and general readers outside the U.S., by bringing to the discussion her perspective as a Fudan-trained professor at Ho Chi Minh City University of Education and the first Vietnamese translator of Eileen Chang.